The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Knox Gear 48 Quart Review

Handy to use, but it doesn’t eliminate your dependency on ice.
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Price:  $150 List | $149.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy to use, has wheels, cool cord storage, energy efficient, relatively inexpensive
Cons:  Short cords, doesn’t reach very cold/hot temperatures, still need to use ice
Manufacturer:   Knox Gear
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 14, 2019
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51
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 7
  • Temperature Control - 25% 4
  • Insulation - 25% 3
  • Energy Consumption - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Portability - 10% 9
  • Features - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Knox Gear 48 Quart is quite nice to use, with its wheels, built-in cord storage, and energy efficiency. It's less expensive compared to similar products, but it very much still requires ice to work well. If you're willing to keep using ice but want an extra boost for your efforts, the Knox can lend a helping hand. For $50 more, though, we prefer the Koolatron Portable 45, our Top Pick for a thermoelectric cooler.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Side-by-side testing of thermoelectric coolers. From left to right: Koolatron  Knox  Igloo.
Side-by-side testing of thermoelectric coolers. From left to right: Koolatron, Knox, Igloo.

Temperature Control


Running without ice, as it's designed to run, the Knox doesn't do an amazing job at cooling its contents. During our testing, it only reached about 25º F below ambient. It also didn't reach as high of a temperature as the Koolatron did, topping out at about 103º. However, the Knox monitors its own heat, turning off at certain times to avoid internal damage. The Koolatron has to be manually unplugged every 45 minutes, which is rather annoying.

Arrive to the potluck with that dish you slaved over still piping hot!
Arrive to the potluck with that dish you slaved over still piping hot!

Insulation


All three thermoelectric models performed about the same in our insulation testing, though the Knox did come out on the bottom of the pack. However, we think this feels like the best-built of the three, and feels much more sturdy all around than either the Koolatron or the Igloo. The wheels and handles feel decent, and the lid is thick, with a secure-feeling closure. Even the little fan components on top seem pretty sold.

The Knox has sturdy hinges and feels well-built  aiding in insulation AND longevity.
The Knox has sturdy hinges and feels well-built, aiding in insulation AND longevity.

Energy Consumption


The Knox is the most energy efficient cooler we tested (leaving out specific energy-saving, low power modes on some of the compressor coolers). It draws just 46.1 watts of power while cooling, which is quite a bit less than the monstrous 62.3 W the Koolatron takes (which is more than half the compressor coolers!). It runs off even less power in heat mode, drawing just 39.0 W. If you plan to run this in your car, we think this is an important feature.

This cooler has the most energy efficient normal mode of operation of any we tested.
This cooler has the most energy efficient normal mode of operation of any we tested.

Ease of Use


Firstly, this is the only one of the three thermoelectric coolers to come with both DC and AC cords, and secondly, they're both attached helpfully inside the lid. This serves as both a storage area and an organizational feature. It's also the only thermoelectric cooler we tested that has a drain in the bottom - which is important for being able to easily use ice. The capacity of the Knox is also much smaller than advertised, and fits only 57 cans - the smallest in our review. As for internal organization, the Knox has a single small divider that can fit in just one of two places. Nothing fancy.

A handy compartment in the lid holds both AC and DC cords  as well as the switch between cooling and heating.
A handy compartment in the lid holds both AC and DC cords, as well as the switch between cooling and heating.

Portability


Ding ding ding! We have a winner here, as the only cooler we tested with wheels! Wheels and a long handle to pull it with are excellent features of the Knox. And to boot, it's nearly the lightest cooler we tested, at just 14.4 lb. And while we love that this cooler comes with both AC and DC cords, unfortunately, both these cords are extremely short, at 4' 10" and 3' 11" respectively. But really, we enjoy the freedom that comes with those wheels.

The Knox is the only cooler we tested with wheels  making it an obvious winner in the portability metric.
The Knox is the only cooler we tested with wheels, making it an obvious winner in the portability metric.

Features


Though not as fancy as some of the compressor models, the Knox has a few features that make it a very user-friendly cooler. The heating feature helps keep take-out warm all the way home. The drain in the bottom is clutch for using it with ice. And the cord storage and handy cool/heat switch hidden in the lid are a nice touch. It is a bit noisy to run, about the same as the Igloo, though much quieter than the annoying Koolatron. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, Knox doesn't offer a warranty on this item, which could be slightly concerning, depending on your outlook.

A single adjustable divider can be moved to one of two locations.
A single adjustable divider can be moved to one of two locations.

Best Applications


We think the Knox is a very usable powered cooler. It's a great way to add some extra life to your ice, cart your food to the picnic easily, and even keep that pot roast hot in a pinch. If you'd rather skip the ice and don't need the wheels, check out the Koolatron, our Top Pick for a Thermoelectric Cooler.

For a portable powered cooler that's handy to use  try the Knox!
For a portable powered cooler that's handy to use, try the Knox!

Value


Retailing for around $145, the Knox is the least expensive cooler we reviewed. Though you'll still need to purchase ice to properly use this cooler, its cooling properties will help to extend the life of that ice and still save money over time. We think that if this cooler is the right fit for your life, then it's a pretty good deal.

Conclusion


Though it didn't win any awards this time around, the Knox is a solidly usable powered cooler that adds just a little bit extra to your cooler game. Its cord storage is super handy, the wheels are fantastic, and the price just might be right. If you're okay with still using some ice, but are ready to take it up a notch, the Knox is calling your name.

Keep food chilled or warm with the portable Knox.
Keep food chilled or warm with the portable Knox.

Other Versions and Accessories


Knox offers two other, smaller versions of thermoelectric coolers; 27-quart and 34-quart.


Maggie Brandenburg